Documentary & Biography TV Shows

About Documentary & Biography

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

About This Genre
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Intervention
Intervention
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Dateline
Dateline
Long Strange Trip
Long Strange Trip
Women Behind Bars
Women Behind Bars
Vietnam in HD
Vietnam in HD
The New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Vice
Vice
Empires
Empires
30 For 30
30 For 30
Below Deck Mediterranean
Below Deck Mediterranean
River Monsters
River Monsters
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Harley and the Davidsons
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
A Season With
Scorned: Love Kills
Ancient Aliens
My 600-lb Life
Beyond Scared Straight
Taboo
American Experience
Xploration Earth 2050
American Masters
Cook's Country
Second Wives Club
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Secrets of the Six Wives
Snapped
The FBI Files
Nature
The War: A Ken Burns Film
NASA's Unexplained Files
Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets
Dates from Hell
The Most Extreme
Wicked Attraction
Alien Encounters
Secrets
A Football Life
20/20
48 Hours Mystery
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Shark Week
I Survived
Life Below Zero
The First World War
Walking with Dinosaurs
Mayday
Genealogy Roadshow
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Surviving Evil
Ocean Mysteries
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
The Skinny Dip
Sins & Secrets
Trapped
Secrets of the Dead
Deadly Affairs
Diesel Brothers
Modern Marvels
How It's Made
Nellyville
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Killing Fields
Gangland
Surviving Disaster
Building Alaska
The Vineyard
Giada in Italy
Deadly Sins
Naked and Afraid: Uncensored
Disappeared
Destination Truth
Dirty Jobs
Gordon's Great Escape
MARS
Secret Lives of the Super Rich
Sensing Murder
POV
Survivorman
1000 Ways to Die
Cold Case Files
Hate Thy Neighbor
Austin City Limits
Frontline
Diagnose Me
Xtreme Waterparks
Good Eats
Locked Up Abroad
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns